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Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ The Abortion Wars Rage On

A federal district judge in Oregon blocked new rules for the federal family planning program issued by the Trump administration and due to take effect May 3. It’s one of several cases out to thwart the changes that would effectively evict Planned Parenthood from the Title X program.

Meanwhile, hospitals are gearing up to fight the various “Medicare-for-all” proposals gaining popularity among Democrats. Hospitals are worried that losing the higher payments from private insurers could threaten their bottom lines.

And, even with all the partisan fights over health care, new proposals from the Department of Health and Human Services to change how doctors are paid by Medicare are receiving praise from Democrats, Republicans and doctors themselves.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Kimberly Leonard of the Washington Examiner and Rebecca Adams of CQ Roll Call.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

The Trump administration’s Title X rule is very similar to a rule set by the Reagan administration that was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1991. Supporters of Planned Parenthood argue that the situation has changed since the Reagan years because the Affordable Care Act has language that bars HHS from issuing any regulation that “interferes with communications regarding a full range of treatment options between the patient and the provider.” A handful of states are pressing new anti-abortion laws forward in the hopes of getting them to the Supreme Court, where they think the new justices will help overturn Roe v. Wade.  That could make abortion a key issue in the 2020 election.  The hospital industry is gearing up for a major fight against progressives who tout a switch to a “Medicare-for-all” health care system.  About one-third of national health spending goes to hospitals, and they are worried that a change in health policy would cut that. The growing concern among hospitals about “Medicare-for-all” could be politically potent. Every congressional district has at least one hospital, which is often a major employer in the community. Seemingly gaining support are efforts by the Trump administration to move Medicare payments to doctors to a “value-based” system that provides higher compensation for keeping patients healthy, rather than just paying for each individualized treatment.

Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read too:

Julie Rovner: The New York Times’ “What Can the U.S. Health System Learn From Singapore?” by Aaron E. Carroll

Rebecca Adams: The Atlantic’s “Physicians Get Addicted Too,” by Sam Quinones

Kimberly Leonard: The Texas Tribune’s “Texas Removes Thousands of Children From Medicaid Each Month Due to Red Tape, Records Show,” by Elizabeth Byrne

Alice Miranda Ollstein: The Washington Post’s “Smoking and Depression Apps Are Selling Your Data to Google and Facebook, Study Finds,” by Rachel Siegel

To hear all our podcasts, click here.

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